In an email sent on Nov. 18, 2021, the campus community was informed of several on-campus bias incidents by John Milby, Furman Chief of Police, and Jason Cassidy, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students. This announcement follows a string of anti-LGBTQIA+ bias incidents, which were announced by President Elizabeth Davis on Oct. 28, 2021. According to the recent email, the additional bias incidents included “the posting of white nationalist stickers on university property and the defacing of Black Lives Matter flags.” The recent email also featured a monetary incentive of up to $1,000 to “anyone who can help identify the person(s) responsible for these acts.”
Milby shared that the stickers were found at several locations around campus and read “Patriot Front.” Milby further explained that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a “white nationalist hate group” formed in 2017, following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The defaced Black Lives Matter flags were found by two first-year students. Furman Pride Alliance had previously gotten approval to display several flags around campus, each featuring different identity or social issues, such as various LGBTQIA+ pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags.
The first altered flag was found on Nov. 12, 2021 in the brick circle between Furman Hall and Johns Hall. The student who noticed the flag was originally “confused.” After realizing that the word "Black" had been cut out of the flag and replaced by the word "All" - using pieces of another Pride flag - the student took the flag to the Office of Student Life and completed a bias incident report.
The second defaced flag was identified by another student on Nov. 14, 2021 next to the library steps. “I was really shocked and disgusted,” they shared, “because while I had heard of a few isolated incidents, I never expected to see something like it myself.” This student took a photo of the flag, sharing it with Furman Pride Alliance GroupMe.
Drew Washington ‘22, Student Body Vice President was discouraged by these incidents:
“As a Black student, the stitching of ‘All Lives Matter’ over the ‘Black Lives Matter’ flag was disheartening because it shows us that our goals toward justice are still far past the horizon. While I hope this action was committed by someone who is not a student, it still shows us that our nation has a long way to go.”
The decision to offer financial incentive for help identifying those responsible for these acts is not unprecedented for the University. Milby explained that the Furman University Police Department has previously offered rewards, such as in the investigation of larceny in the Chapel in 2018. Milby also elaborated that any information offered would be validated before a reward is paid - and that anyone submitting a false report could face “sanctions from the university, and/or be charged criminally with filing a false report.”
Milby also shared that the anti-LGBTQIA+ bias incidents are still under investigation. Any information regarding any of these investigations should be directed to Furman University Police Department, either through the LiveSafe App or by calling 864.294.2111.